A slow first few months of the year in both 2008 and 2009 in securing beading orders was followed by a sudden and much welcomed upsurge in demand for our products, achieved through our customary networks. Our strong links and continuing good quality products have enabled us to effectively continue gaining orders.
We are fortunate in having made strong connections with a number of large organisations that provide us with a basic income stream. In 2008 we received a large order for 12 000 special AIDS pins for a pharmaceutical company in France. We shared this order with a number of other projects and our mothers were able to earn a little extra income which helps to cover their expenses when orders are low.
A number of schools continue to offer ongoing support, regular orders from Thailand and from Japan running demonstrate their commitment to our cause and continued orders are greatly appreciated. In addition to this we completed a special order for the SA Heart Conference, as well as continuing to supply our popular conference name-holders which are in steady demand, of which one of the orders came from the Gates Foundation in the USA.
Pfizer Pharmaceuticals made a significant order of 2500 beaded pens for an AIDS conference in Cape Town in July. They also generously created an awareness poster about our project to display at their stand. Other significant orders have been for conferences in Canada and Australia to promote the next conferences of these organizations which are to be held in Cape Town. This is very promising as in both cases big orders for the local conferences are expected to follow.
The birth of Our Brochure:
The Positive Beadwork brochure which has been on the 'designing board' for sometime has recently been completed. With the support and guidance of a number of our volunteers we were able to hold a wonderfully creative photographic session at the project site. The finished product is a lovely brochure with colourful photos and text on our project, crediting our beading mothers and their skills.
In recent months Positive Beadwork has been focusing on getting our profile onto the web. Connected to the Kidzpositive website we have our own 'mini' site where information about our project can be found, as well as orders placed online. This is extremely helpful for overseas orders and for organisations wanting to create their own designs online. Adding to this we have created our own Facebook profile which has a small but steady following of supporters, as well as a profile on GreaterGoodSA. This site allows individuals and organisations to access information about us, offer skills, time and energy to our cause. We are hoping that both these technology driven initiatives will prove fruitful. We continue to source other ways of getting our profile positively exposed.
A new product has recently been designed and is waiting marketing opportunity through our website. The Ndebele card is a small rectangular intricately designed beadwork with a pin one side attached to a card. The receiver of the card can detach the pin from the card and use it as a brooch. This is a new and exciting opportunity which offers customers a proudly South African product.
In mid-April 2009 Beads Positive held a workshop for the mothers on the beading project to constructively raise matters of concern. A facilitator, Nomfuneko Salaze, who knows and understands the project steered the workshop. This was an extremely worthwhile exercise. Necessary changes have been made and new additions added, including changes in our mother's management team. Definite value has been added through open communication and brainstorming around the project.
Weekly support groups are held for mothers and caregivers attending the HIV/AIDS clinics where counsellors facilitate discussion. These weekly sessions are a supportive space for dialogue and offer a safe environment for individuals to communicate their feelings and experiences.
New additions to the Team:
We have contracted an Assistant Co-ordinator to work 10 hours a week at the clinic on site. This frees up time for Kate Gray (Beadwork Project Co-ordinator) to network with other groups and offer additional support to outreach projects.
Tribute must be paid to all our volunteers who provide us with the necessary manpower to keep the project running. Our floor managers, skills training, and new product developer are integral elements of the project and provide guidance and expertise to the project. Many committed hands have made for lighter work.
In our outreach in 2008, we facilitated the establishment of a beadwork project to be run in conjunction with the HIV/AIDS clinic in Worcester. Like the Paarl project where there is an established Beadwork Project, the local clinic doctor has initiated the birth of the income generation project and Kidzpositive Family Fund is acting as a conduit for funds from overseas donors to support the implementation of the project. This is an exciting and new learning adventure.
In our outreach this year we have been visited by two other projects and a request from a doctor at the Knysna clinic to help in starting a similar project. Through networking we have been able to link up the FAMSA (Sisonke group) with a customer who bought a significant number of their beaded dog collars.
We will be offering support and resource guidance to both the Knysna public health HIV/AIDS clinic (Dr Laurel Giddy) and the False Bay Hospital HIV/AIDS clinic (Dr Kalawe) clinics over the next year as they start up their own Beading projects. Communication and advice continues between the projects and it is our hope that these fledgling projects will grow in strength as our Positive Beadwork has over the past few years.
Recent meetings with a volunteer from False Bay HIV/AIDS clinic has opened up the possibility for more international exposure for the project. Through a number of links, The Positive Beadwork project has been able to send a sample of products to Bono's Red Project, which provides a percentage of money to women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. We are unsure of the outcome for this network link, however are positive in the knowledge that exposure is beneficial.
The Positive Beadwork income-generation project has economically enabled many women who would not have been able to provide for their families an opportunity to earn a small and steady income:
Mrs Kibido (on the project since 2000): 'I managed to buy myself a fridge to put my daughters medicines and food in with the money I got from the beadwork,'
Mrs Ncethelo (on the project since 2002): 'I also managed to buy myself furniture and a wendy house… since this is a weekly income I am able to plan a budget for things I need for myself or my daughter because I am assured that I will have money to pay for it. It relieves my stress,'
Mrs Dawase (on the project since 2002): 'I did many great things with the beading money ever since I started doing it. I bought furniture and I am able to have money for life insurance policies and 'cash-building' clubs. I am also able to give my son money for food when he goes to school without having to be asking my husband.'
This sense of empowerment, of earning one's own income and being able to provide for one's family is highly effective tool in increasing self-esteem and purpose in one's life. The Positive Beadwork project is proud to be able to offer a space for mothers and caregivers to provide for their families. Not only has the project provided a level of economic empowerment for those involved, the psycho-social impact is incredibly powerful:
Mrs Rasmeni (on the project since 2000): 'When my husband left me I thought it was the end of the world! With the money I got from beadwork I was able to look after my children and myself. I bought a wendy house, bought furniture and saved money to buy hearing aids for my daughter. I am better off now and it would be sad if the beading project stopped.'
Learning a new skill can be challenging, as Mrs Ngedle (on the project since 2005) found out: 'When I started beadwork it was quite stressful for me because every time the quality checkers would say my work wasn't of a good quality and reject it…' However through perseverance and commitment to improvement skills can be learnt: …'I later learnt that they didn't do it because they hated me but because they wanted good quality work. Now I'm happy because with the money I managed to extend my one roomed shack to four rooms!' The sense of pride, independence and accomplishment is tangible: 'even if my husband has left me I am able to look after myself and my two children - one who is in high school and the other who is 2 months old! Beadwork is my husband, my mother, my everything' (Mrs Ngedle).
In essence these stories shared show us that the work that The Positive Beadwork project provides adds value to those involved in it. Undoubtedly it is never a smooth sea on which we sail, with many multi-faceted dynamics. However it is a valuable and integral part of the lives of the families we help.
Ms Bhabha: 'When I disclosed my status to my family I was staying at my sister's house and they chased me out of the house. I went to stay with an aunt but didn't feel at home. I went to live on the streets. When I joined the beadwork project I realised that I can still live my life by making beads and earning something.' With the money from beadwork Ms Bhabha has managed to build her own shack. She feels that the project has given her life back.
Small weekly injectures of cash capital allow beaders such as Ms Bhabha the opportunity to provide for themselves and their children.
The value of this project is immense. The statements provided by bead workers provide insight into the power and value that this income-generation has provided in the past, and continues to provide. Termed an 'income-generation' project, the Positive Beadwork project undoubtedly offers far more than pure monetary income. It provides a sense of purpose, independence and dignity to individuals who are experiencing the perilous journey of living in poverty and with the HIV/AIDs virus. Over the past 18 months the project has re-shaped and re-shifted. It has undergone change through work-shopping, it has offered it's blueprint to other clinics, it has seen old faces leave and new faces join, and most of all, it has continued to surge forward, to offer support and provide an income to those most in need.
"By caring about the patient's holistic being, a lot can be done to stop poverty from becoming a major cause of death among HIV-positive people" Dr Paul Roux
Our new product 'Ndebele cards' feature beautiful ethnic designs on beaded squares with a pin attached so you are buying more than just a card and your purchase is supporting a family affected by HIV/AIDS. The beadwork can be worn as a brooch or pinned to a bag. The cards are R20 each and can be ordered from email@example.com or inquiries to
+27 21 686 9710.